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From the CEO: Taking care of business

Cite as: March 2015 89 (3) LIJ, p.06

Our focus this year is on helping members with business opportunities.

By Nerida Wallace - LIV CEO

The siege in Martin Place, in Sydney’s CBD in December, brought home how precarious life may be. In January, I visited the Law Society of NSW, which is just metres from the Lindt Café. I heard how CEO Michael Tidball and his staff, as well as the Uniform Legal Services Commissioner Dale Boucher, in his office close by, responded in the course of that terrible day and night.

Our thoughts are with our NSW colleagues and their families. In particular, our condolences go to the family of Katrina Dawson, the slain barrister.

Back in Victoria, the LIV’s program of advocacy on important issues continues apace in 2015. We have stood up for privacy, seeking answers on the day to day impact of the proposed data retention Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014, and how it would operate in practice and actually affect the privacy of all Australians. This year’s LIV president Katie Miller is a tireless proponent of maintaining our personal and professional privacy. I hope you have been able to catch her appearances in the media on this issue.

This year, the LIV begins a new era in member support. I am pleased to report that a range of new services to members will be rolled out in coming months. Our focus is on helping members with business-related training opportunities, negotiating new product discounts, expanding technical help on legal matters, and a more accessible website. Like your firms, the LIV is constantly being fine-tuned to meet the needs of the people it serves.

If you are in the CBD, where about half of our members work, I encourage you to visit the LIV. Our bookshop continues to grow and will soon be fully online. And I suggest you consider joining one of the 70 or so LIV committees that play an important role both in influencing government policy and in improving the working life and career opportunities of people working in the law. A new technology committee has been established and is calling for members. It’s something to think about.

The regions and suburbs won’t be left out. A new program helping country and suburban law associations is underway. A new liaison manager who will manage the relationship between the LIV and the outer law associations will be available. We are working on better sponsorships and a new LIV news channel which will deliver up to the minute legal news to members.

Tailored CPD offerings are to be introduced in 2015, too. The CPD deadline looms in March. I urge you to consider the CPD 2015 LIV Intensive at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins as an excellent networking opportunity that allows you to also bring your points up to date. The LIV will soon be offering webinars for important CPD areas, most notably the new system of e-conveyancing. Bendigo and Geelong are first in line and I have asked the Legal Services Commissioner Michael McGarvie to speak in both cities on how best to approach compliance in this area.

July brings the introduction of the new Uniform Legal Services law. The LIV spent many intensive weeks over the summer break negotiating with the Law Society of NSW, the Australian Bar Association and other law societies on the content of the Conduct Rules, the General Rules and the Admission Rules. The outcomes have fed into submissions to the Legal Services Council and are required under law to be lodged by the Law Council of Australia. By the time you read this, the outcomes of those negotiations should be known. If you hold a practising certificate, or as a government lawyer will be required to hold one, I suggest you check the LIV website regularly for help with ensuring you do all that will be necessary.

The new law introduces a short form costs disclosure form to be used for legal services valued at between $750 and $3000 starting on 1 July 2015. Lawyers’ clients will find the form an easy guide to how their bill will be structured and what services will be provided. The LIV will be offering help with this with mailouts, tweets, letters to individual members and continuing coverage in the LIJ. You can contact our member support line and you will find the resources you will need to comply on the LIV website.

Finally, I was pleased to welcome Victoria’s new Attorney-General Martin Pakula and the new Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto to their respective roles in the Victorian Parliament. The LIV will be working closely with the new government on contingency fees as well as the Charter of Human Rights, among other issues.

It is already shaping up to be a very full year. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss issues important to you.

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